How to Do a Website Audit (with a Free Checklist for Success)

Websites—even small ones—consist of many moving parts. And each of those parts can break down without you even noticing.

That’s where website audits come in.

In this article, we’ll go over the main types of audits and explain how to conduct one. We’ll break the process down into clear, actionable steps that you can easily follow along.

Let’s get started.

What Is a Website Audit?

A website audit is a comprehensive analysis of a website’s performance, structure, and content. 

The primary purpose of a website audit is to identify issues and areas for improvement so they can be addressed. To enhance the site’s user experience (UX), SEO, and overall effectiveness in achieving your goals.

Think of auditing a website as a comprehensive health check.

It includes at least a few of the following aspects:

  1. Technical SEO: Assessing the technical aspects of the website, such as site speed, mobile-friendliness, URL structure, crawlability, and indexing. Technical SEO efforts ensure that search engines can easily access and understand the site.
  2. On-page SEO: Examining individual webpages to assess likelihood they’ll be highly ranked by search engines. Optimization efforts focus on things like meta tags (meta titles and meta descriptions), keyword usage, and content quality.
  3. Backlinks: Assessing a website’s link profile (i.e., the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to the website). This helps identify potential issues with spammy or low-quality links that could harm search engine rankings.
  4. Conversion rate optimization (CRO): Evaluating the website’s ability to convert visitors into customers or achieve other desired actions. Like signing up for a newsletter or filling out a contact form.
  5. Competitor research: Comparing your site to your competitors’ sites in any of the above aspects. This helps identify opportunities for improvement. 
  6. Social media: Examining which social platforms your business has a presence on, whether the profiles are up to date, and which content contributes most to your business goals.

A website audit typically concludes with a detailed report highlighting issues and providing recommendations for improvement. Ideally, the website audit also prioritizes those recommendations. 

Website audits are best run on a regular basis. 

But don’t worry—you don’t have to manually conduct them over and over if you use the right tools.

Site Audit only has to be set up once. Then, running regular audits is simple. 

Jump to the section on how to do a technical audit for more on how to create a project in Site Audit.

Why Conduct a Website Audit?

Think back to our analogy: A website audit is like a health check at the doctor. 

The exam might turn up issues such as high blood sugar. And the doctor recommends a plan to address it.

The same goes for website audits. Audits surface issues that are paired with recommended fixes.

And just like your health is measured by things like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, your website’s health is measured with key performance indicators (KPIs).

Example KPIs include:

You might monitor those in tools such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console. And when they’re not showing positive results, you’ll look for a cause and way to address it.

For example, you can monitor how many visitors come to your site via organic search and how they behave once on your site:

But there are tons of potential KPIs.

That’s why we recommend doing specific types of website audits whenever you see certain KPIs deteriorate. That way, you can focus the audit on the areas of your site that are associated with the metric in question. 

Consider that it doesn’t make sense to audit your backlinks when your page speed is slow. You’d want to look at technical SEO elements for that.

6 Types of Website Audits

Think of KPIs as triggers for the various kinds of website audits. 

For instance:

  • See your number of indexed pages decline? Conduct a technical audit.
  • Notice your rankings drop for a popular page on your website? Do an on-page SEO audit.

We’ll now introduce you to six types of website audits:

1. Technical SEO Audit

A technical SEO audit identifies opportunities to optimize your website for rankings in search engines by looking at its technical aspects. 

You can think about a technical SEO audit when looking at the KPIs reported inside the “Indexing” and “Experience” categories in Google Search Console. 

That includes KPIs such as:

  • The number of pages with good Core Web Vitals
  • The crawl frequency by search engine bots
  • The number of indexed pages
Page indexing report in Google Search Console

You can use the Site Audit tool to conduct a technical SEO Audit. 

It can flag numerous technical SEO issues. For instance, ones that impact the Core Web Vitals or hinder pages from getting indexed.

Here are some common issues you might discover:

  • Pages missing from your sitemaps
  • Non-200 status codes
  • Non-secure pages
  • Slow load speed

Via the “Issues” tab, Site Audit even provides you with a technical to-do list. 

“Issues” tab in Site Audit tool

You can opt to have Site Audit show you all issues. Or only errors, warnings, or notices.

In each case, Site Audit lists the issues by the number of times they’ve been found (in descending order). So you’ll never have to worry about what to fix next. Simply work down the list from top to bottom.

2. On-Page SEO Audit

An on-page SEO website audit serves to improve your search engine rankings by evaluating your:

And more.

We recommend conducting an on-page SEO audit whenever KPIs like these are negatively affected:

  • The number of organic queries a page ranks for
  • The rankings for queries that are important to your business
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Organic traffic
  • Organic conversions

You’ll be able to detect those changes in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

An on-page SEO audit involves a lot of text. And it can be difficult to efficiently evaluate all that text.

A tool that helps with this is On Page SEO Checker.

Follow the On-Page SEO Checker configuration guide. And be sure to input all the pages and keywords you want to optimize them for. And click “Collect ideas.”

On Page SEO Checker settings

The tool will propose a bunch of on-page optimization ideas that you can filter by page:

On Page SEO Checker overview dashboard

A backlink audit assesses the quantity and quality of your website’s backlinks. Which can affect your ability to rank for your target keywords.

You can do a pretty robust analysis quickly using Backlink Analytics.

Just enter your domain. You’ll then be able to get a high-level look at your backlink profile.

Backlink Analytics overview dashboard

The quality of your website is baked into its Authority Score—a measure of how reputable your site is. And a low score indicates it’s a good idea to gain links from more high-quality websites.

4. Conversion Rate Optimization Audit

If your website attracts visitors but doesn’t convert them into customers (or subscribers or whatever your conversion goal may be), a CRO audit can help identify the issue to turn things around.

A CRO audit is in order if the following KPIs in Google Analytics drop or aren’t where you think they should be:

  • Number of conversions
  • Conversion rate (which you can calculate by dividing the number of sessions with conversions by the number of sessions)

Google Analytics will likely be the first tool to consult as part of a CRO audit. Through GA4’s “Pages and screens” report (and any exploration reports you’ve set up), you can pinpoint pages that act as the roadblocks in your funnel.

Once you know which pages are causing difficulties, you can use a heatmap tool (like Hotjar) to see which elements on those pages prevent users from turning into subscribers, leads, or customers. 

Hotjar's heatmap tool

A heatmap tool analyzes activity on a specific webpage. And shows you which elements users click a lot and which they ignore.

Elements that will often be scrutinized in a CRO audit are:

  • Buttons
  • Forms
  • Badges
  • Pop-ups
  • Menu items

A CRO audit will likely help you find ways to increase clicks on your conversion elements.

5. Social Media Audit

A social media website audit can help you determine whether your website is missing out on traffic from social media.

It examines all your social media profiles with a focus on:

  • The size of your audience and its growth over time
  • The engagement rates of your posts
  • The pieces of content your audience likes most

A social media audit may become necessary when Google Analytics shows a drop in users or sessions from your social networks.

Social Analytics provides an overview of your overall audience and engagement. It also shows you breakdowns by social media platform. 

A Facebook dashboard in Social Analytics

If you want to go deeper and discover what content works well for your competitors, Social Tracker can help. It will show you all their posts, the corresponding metrics, and how you compare.

6. Competitor Audit

Conducting any of the previously mentioned audits on a competitor helps paint a clear picture of what’s working for others in your industry. 

So, any of the KPIs mentioned above can prompt you to do a competitor audit. 

Let’s walk through an example. 

Say you’ve been waiting to start ranking for some crucial search queries for more than six months. This might lead you to compare your backlink profile to those of a competitor who continues to outrank you.

To conduct this kind of backlink-focused competitor audit, you can use the Backlink Gap tool. 

Simply input your domain and up to four competitors’ domains And click “Find prospects.”

Backlink Gap tool

You’ll then be able to see backlinks your competitors have acquired that you haven’t. And you can see the Authority Score of each referring domain. Which can help you prioritize who to reach out to first.

A list of domains your competitors have backlinks from in Backlink Gap tool

If you’re not sure who your main competitors are, input your domain into Domain Overview to find a list of your organic competitors under “Main Organic Competitors” in the “Overview” tab:

“Main Organic Competitors” section in the Domain Overview dashboard

In this example, you’re trying to improve your site’s performance for some crucial queries that you’re not yet ranking for. So, you might also conduct a technical SEO or on-page SEO audit to make sure you’re not running into issues in those areas.

How to Do a Technical Website Audit

It’s time to go over how to audit a website in greater detail.

We chose a technical SEO audit given it’s a good starting point for most sites. 

First, open Site Audit.

Type in your domain and click “Start Audit.”

"petco.com" entered into the Site Audit tool

This will bring up the “Site Audit Settings” menu. It is broken into six tabs on the left-hand side, starting with the basic settings.

"Site Audit Settings" window

Click the pencil icon next to “Crawl scope.” 

"Crawl scope" pencil icon selected

Indicate whether you want Site Audit to crawl your entire domain, a specific subdomain, or a specific folder. In this example, we want Site Audit to crawl the entire domain, so we leave everything as is.

Setting crawl settings to the entire domain "petco.com"

Now, select the number of pages you want crawled.

"100" selected under "Limit of checked pages" drop-down menu

Next, choose the crawl source by selecting from the four options in the drop-down menu. We want to focus our technical SEO audit on pages accessible to Googlebot, so let’s choose “Sitemaps on site” here.

"Sitemaps on site" selected under "Crawl source" drop-down menu

The remainder of the settings tabs are optional. 

It’s OK to start Site Audit without touching them. But it’s a good idea to enable JavaScript rendering in the “Crawler settings” tab to ensure the crawl is as similar to Googlebot’s crawls as possible.

Also, make sure to list any pages you don’t want crawled. And provide login credentials if your site is protected by a password. 

Next, click the “Schedule” tab. 

The default option is “Once.” We’re changing this to “Weekly, Every Sunday,” so we’ll stay on top of future issues that might arise.

“Weekly, Every Sunday" selected under Site Audit schedule

Make sure the box next to “Send an email every time an audit is complete” is checked to ensure you always get email updates following an audit. And click “Start Site Audit.”

You’ll be notified once the audit is complete. 

You can then head to the “Overview” report.

Site Audit overview dashboard

This will show you a high-level look at your site’s overall health. 

You’ll get a Site Health score—which is calculated based on the number of errors and warnings found on your website. The higher the score, the better. You can also compare your site health against other websites in your industry.

You’ll also see the total number of “Errors,” “Warnings,” and “Notices.” And a “Top Issues” table that suggests which issues to address first.

Next, go to the “Issues” tab. Which will list all issues, starting with errors (the most severe ones).

"Issues" tab in Site Audit for "petco.com"

In terms of prioritization, it’s best to start from the top and work down.

Click “Why and how to fix it” next to any issue for a quick explanation of it and how to address it.

Why and how to fix duplicate title tags issue

Once you have a firm grip on the issue, click on the error name (in our case, “7 issues with duplicate title tags”). You’ll see a detailed report that lists each instance of the error.

“7 issues with duplicate title tags” reports page

Once you’ve addressed all errors, you can move on to warnings and notices. 

Next, assign fixes to the appropriate person.

A developer might handle issues related to 5xx status codes, DNS resolution, or slow load speed. 

But a content writer might tackle things like low word count or links with non-descriptive anchor text.

How do you keep track of all tasks and their owners?

Click “Send to” beside a particular issue to bring up a pop-up that will let you send issues to:

Send issues from Site Audit to Semrush CRM, Trello board or Zapier

From there, you can easily assign tasks to the appropriate team members. And set deadlines for completion.

Keep Your Site Healthy with Regular Audits

Hopefully, you can see that website audits aren’t as complicated as they sound. And auditing your website is essential for staying on top of errors and issues you might not otherwise know about. 

Site Audit streamlines this entire process. Helping your website go from good to great.

Simply follow the steps above to conduct a technical SEO audit using Site Audit. Or download the checklist to run any of the other audits listed above. 

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